New (very short) Trip Report: Alabama

Tallageda Forest

Tallageda Forest

Plans to spend a romantic (i.e. mammal-free) long weekend in New Orleans last week had to be abandoned at the 11th hour. So, stuck with a plane ticket to Louisiana, I thought I might as well look for a few mammals while visiting two states that I hadn’t been to before: Mississippi and Alabama.

There are a few small mammals in the region that I haven’t seen including Golden Mouse, Southern Short-tailed Shrew and Eastern Woodrat.  I did a bit of research into areas where they have been recorded, and found recent records for Golden Mice and Short-tailed Shrews around Tallageda National Forest (Alabama),  and recent records of Eastern Woodrats and Short-tailed Shrews from near Demopolis (Alabama).  I decided to spend a night in each place.

Tallageda National Forest

I spent a night in Tuscaloosa, and looked around the Oakmulgee section of the Tallageda National Forest in the evening.  A couple of hours with the thermal scope produced only one White-tailed Deer and a Deer Mouse climbing a tree. There were a few Grey Squirrels along the road in the morning.

Demopolis

The swampy hardwood forest around Demopolis  is some of the last of Alabama’s “Black Belt” forest, a particularly rich ecosystem that has been hit hard. I spent a couple of hours with a thermal scope and a flashlight walking a very nice nature trail that starts along  the entrance road into Spillway Falls Park a couple of miles out of town. This is a wide, well-maintained trail with some boardwalk too: excellent for spotlighting.

Things were pretty quiet the first hour after sunset, but picked up after 9 p.m.

I got a good look at my first Eastern Woodrat, frozen on the base of a tree trunk and saw one maybe two others through my thermal scope.

What ought to have been a jumping mouse put on a pretty impressive display of acrobatics when I caught it in the flashlight beam: vertical leaps from a standing start,  2 or 3 ft in the air. But both species appear well out of range down here so I am not sure what this was: can deer mice jump like that?

I also saw a pair of Nine-banded Armadillos, a Raccoon and a White-tailed Deer.  In the late afternoon I ran into a couple of big black Feral Pigs in the bug ridden forest a few hundred metres up the road.

Jon

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Venkat Sankar 4 weeks ago

    Cool! Eastern Woodrat is a pretty good find. Too bad you didn’t find a Golden Mouse, I’d really love to see one of those… I’ve seen Peromyscus maniculatus jump something like 20″ from a standing start, so I wouldn’t rule a Peromyscus out.

    Also, did you get photos of any of the Peromyscus you saw? Besides common stuff like P. gossypinus and P. leucopus, Oldfield Mouse (P. polionotus) should also occur in the areas you were in.

  2. Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets
    Vladimir Dinets 4 weeks ago

    Are you sure P. maniculatus occurs that far south?
    BTW, golden mouse usually jumps up into the branches if encountered on the ground.

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